This delicious traybake is based on chopped dates softened in fruit juice/water - so it turns out similar in texture to a sticky toffee pudding. It's moist, chewy and richly chocolatey, but not too sweet - it makes a (slightly) healthier alternative to rich, but sugar laden, brownies. The dates are more noticeable for making the texture chewy than for their flavour, as is the case with sticky toffee pudding, but they seem to make the chocolate more intense. The recipe comes originally from 'Wicked Chocolate' by Jane Suthering.
255g chopped dates
250mls water or 50:50 orange juice:water (I used OJ from a carton, but couldn't taste it in the cake - all water would be easier to use!)
170g plain chocolate, chopped (I used 74% cocoa solids)
115g softened butter
115g light Muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
170g SR flour, sifted
115g walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 190C and line a 30 x 20cm (12 x 8") rectangular baking tin with baking parchment. The tin needs to be at least 4cm (nearly 2") deep.
Put the chopped dates into a small saucepan and add the 250mls liquid. Bring just to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes to soften the dates. Not all the liquid will be absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate; stir briskly until the chocolate has melted.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and increased in volume, then beat in the eggs one at a time. (I usually beat in the eggs at a slower mixer speed - I find it reduces the chances of curdling).
Next fold in the flour, followed by the date and chocolate mix (it will still be quite warm!), and the walnuts. Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly blended, then spread into the baking tin.
Bake for about 20 minutes until firm and well risen - the cocktail stick test isn't the most helpful guide as the cake is so moist. Cool in the tin, then cut into serving sized pieces. I made 18 pieces, but the original recipe suggested cutting into 24 pieces - use your judgement!
The original recipe suggests frosting with a mix of 115g melted plain chocolate cooled and mixed with 115g Greek natural yogurt, and topping each squre with a half walnut, but I didn't think a frosting was necessary. A dusting of icing sugar would improve the appearance, if you worry about that sort of thing!